Howard Johnson staked an uncontestable claim for a place among the elite of British jumps trainers as Inglis Drever gave him a third Cheltenham Festival victory of the week when beating Baracouda in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle.
In teaming up with multimillionaire owner Graham Wylie, Johnson has been furnished with an expensivelypurchased but ultra-talented team of jumpers that many of his colleagues could only dream about.
And his name can now be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Martin Pipe, Paul Nicholls and Philip Hobbs at the top of the trainers' tree.
Despite the array of classy performers at his disposal, few could have expected that Johnson would come to jump racing's Olympics and claim three victories - Arcalis and No Refuge were the others - with the possibility of more still to come.
Having started the week as Festival 'virgins', Wylie and jockey Graham Lee were still genuinely stunned with yesterday's success as their first, and the Cheltenham crowd welcomed them into the winner's enclosure as their own, despite Inglis Drever having denied Baracouda a third stayers' hurdle crown.
Having his first try at this three-mile trip, Inglis Drever (5-1) surged to the front at the last and was far too strong for the 6-5 favourite up the hill, scoring by three lengths.
Rule Supreme did nothing wrong and was a creditable third, only another threequarters of a length behind Baracouda.
With Baracouda's supposed pacemaker Knife Edge dropping out in the early stages, it was left to Tom Scudamore and Westender to take the initiative down the back straight and they were still holding a clear advantage at the second-last.
But all the time a posse of challengers were closing.
Having jumped the penultimate flight in sixth place, Lee threw everything at the winner, who found more acceleration than all of his rivals and led just before the last.
Galloping home strongly, the six-year-old saw out every yard of the race in style.
"I never usually shake, but watching that race today made me shake a little bit because I love this horse," said Johnson.
"He jumped as straight as a die today. Graham gave him a lovely ride. All credit to the staff at home.
"I knew he'd come up the hill. We've got one that's high and steep at home. When he's on form he goes up our hill great.
"That's the secret about training our horses - going up steep hills.
"It seems to get their wind right and helps them be fit and healthy.
"If he's in good fettle, he might go to Liverpool, and if not he'll be back next season.
"The irony is that he wouldn't have run here had Royal Rosa not done a tendon at Kempton. But he'll be back next season as well, so there's plenty to look forward to."
Lee praised his mount for having a heart "as big as the winner's enclosure".
"He didn't travel great, he didn't jump great but he's got a big heart and in the end I think I got there a bit too soon but I wasn't going to stop when I got him going," said the rider.
"I was forced to track Baracouda for a while because I wasn't travelling well, but I'm so happy for the horse. He's always been a real favourite of ours.
"Through injuries I've missed ten weeks of the season so far - ten good weeks too - but one Cheltenham win would have made up for those ten, let alone three."
For every winner there has to be a loser and it was sad to see Baracouda forced into second place again as his bid for a history-making third win in the race went wide of the mark for the second year running.
But despite the obvious disappointment of defeat, FranAois Doumen took it with grace.
"He was really a splendid second," he said. "Tony (Mc-Coy) was impeccable, he gave him the perfect ride. We were just beaten by a better horse and we have to respect that.
"He may go to Aintree. We will certainly enter him, but it may depend upon the ground.